By Matt Wiley
Since March of last year, the sights and sounds of change have been present at St. James United Methodist Church (UMC) in Tampa Palms. Now, after a year of construction, the new sanctuary at the church has opened its doors, just in time for one of its biggest services of the year, Easter Sunday.
In celebration of the completion of the project, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held before each service on March 17 at the church, located off of Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., to showcase the $1.2-million expanded sanctuary, lobby and two new classrooms. The expansion was funded almost soley by congregation donations.
“We had a great turnout,” says St. James Pastor Steve Ezra. “There was a very positive response from the congregation. After a year of construction, it’s nice to see a new view.”
More than 760 church members and visitors alike turned out for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies that took place before all three services on March 17. Pastor Ezra notes that the back wall of the sanctuary was nothing but plywood for months.
“To see the project become a reality is a beautiful thing,” he says.
After 26 years of services, Ezra says that the church should finally have room for a large Easter attendance this year, although that number was not available at our press time. In year’s past, he says that Easter services — Christmas, too — have had such large turnouts that worshippers have had to watch the service from overflow areas across the church’s campus, such as in classrooms.
This year, after a 4,000-sq.-ft. build-out, even if there is not enough room in the pews, there still will be room for more seats in the lobby, which also is equipped with TV monitors, so worshippers can still see the service inside the same building as everyone else.
“We always seem to have a good crowd for those services,” Ezra says. “This newly remodeled sanctuary is a sign of health and growth for the church.”
For more information about St. James UMC, visit StJamesTampa.org, stop by the church, located at 16202 BBD Blvd., next to Tampa Fire Rescue Station No. 20, or call 971-4790.